Sunday, September 17, 2006
Just a thought or two.
Some mornings the dawn chorus around our place is an amazing thing to wake up to. I lie in bed looking out and Kookaburras fly through the branches outside the big glass door. I leave this door always a bit open so I can hear the birds and the morning sounds and so I can breathe the sweet cool air and feel a bit more in touch with, a part of life.
The Butcher Bird’s song is such a pure melody unable to be copied by all the skills of humankind. Ours is just to listen and realise.
When I wake up like this in the greyness and hear the Magpies carolling along to each other I realise my insignificance in all of this and also my significance.
Before man was, Magpies yodelled about in the trees and scratched about teaching their young the intricate game of survival. Whether we were here or not means nothing to the Magpie, the Kookaburra or the Butcher Bird. Over the ages mankind of many colours and races has lived on this ancient land and faded in and out like the shadow paintings of the “Bradshaw Type” of the Kimberleys. (http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/bradshaws/main.html )
These rock paintings feature tall elegant figures with complicated headdresses. Their vibrancy belies the extreme age of these echoes of a lost people. In a way they still appear to live adorned with clothing and other accoutrements unknown to the Aboriginal tribes who later inhabited the land.
Even those few, still genuine tribal Aborigines from the area have no idea who painted these enigmatic paintings, so much so that early pioneers reported that most of them could not even see the paintings because they were outside of their “seeing”. Once they were traced out with a finger they were amazed and could see them for the first time.
The old tribal medicine people knew they were there but didn’t claim them as belonging to their dreamtime and placed no value upon them at all.
“From before. From before.” was their reply.
The Bradshaw people whose rich life is depicted on a myriad of rock faces faded out and no one knows who these lost people were, all they left were these shadows of their presence.
But the Magpies, Kookaburras and Butcher Birds sang the same dawn chorus to them, then to the Aborigines, to us now and to whoever comes along, away and on out into time. People just like myself laid half asleep in the early greyness and listened to what is still being heard today. They lived well over 50,000 years ago and no doubt humankind listened to these sounds and wondered for as long as we have walked on earth.
So I am hearing what they heard and my descendants if they are here, and if I am blessed with descendants a thousand years hence, will hear the same.
These sounds are so familiar, so friendly and so much a part of my world; a world I am as bound to as were and are any others. But the Magpie, Kookaburra and Butcher Bird, they are out of time, so to speak.
No clock marks out their days, just dawn, day, twilight and night. Just heat, cool, cold, wind rain and fire. Just birth, living, breeding, nurturing and death. And singing. Singing.
What would this world be like without their songs?
And yet some Maggies choose to befriend us and seem so curious that it seems they like to be around us. Some Kookaburras really do seem to be laughing at us and regarding us with a sarcastic eye as we plod about in our downward and inward looking ways. Some Butcher Birds do seem to like sitting in the branches, not across the paddock, but right outside the window and sing songs of such a purity and melody as to stir the soul to wonder.
Maybe these things are meant to be this way and not understood, just beheld. Its all the same to the Magpie, Kookaburra and the Butcher bird after all. And maybe my ignorance of ornithology is clear to “bird- knowers” as I have no idea at all if the Magpie, Kookaburra and Butcher Bird inhabit the hot lands of the Kimberelys, but who is to say they didn’t once…and who cares at all, not them that’s for bloody sure.
( This site contains short audio of most Australian birds http://abc.net.au/archives/av/birds.htm )